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How to use your Android smartphone from your PC – plus other home office hacks

Microsoft's Your Phone app lets you control your smartphone from your laptop or PC, which could prove handy when you're working from home

How to use your Android smartphone from your PC – plus other home office hacks

With many of us still working from home on a regular basis, we’re relying on our technology to keep us productive. To help you stay a little more organised, Microsoft is offering a free app for Windows PCs that lets you link your smartphone with your laptop.

Using the Microsoft Your Phone app, you can send texts and receive work calls right from your Windows PC. If your job has you working at a computer for several hours a day, you’ll come to appreciate not having to reach for your phone every time it buzzes.

Below, we explore the key features of Your Phone and share some bonus tips on upgrading your home office setup, including advice on improving your internet connection in a larger house.

Which? Tech Support – show your devices who’s boss

What can Microsoft’s Your Phone app do?

Your Phone is designed for Windows 10 PCs running the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. To get started, head to the Microsoft Store on your desktop PC or laptop and download the free app.

Microsoft’s app is fully compatible with Android smartphones running Android 7.0 Nougat or later. You can see which operating system you’re using at the moment by heading to your Settings menu.

From a paired computer, Android smartphone owners can:

  • make and receive calls (as long as your computer has Bluetooth)
  • receive and manage your phone notifications
  • reply to texts on your phone
  • drag files between your PC and your smartphone

If you’re on Android, you can link more than one device to your PC. This is good news if you’d like to switch between your work phone and your personal phone, as each device has its own unique contact book and notifications.

Unfortunately, the Your Phone experience isn’t as impressive on iPhone. Microsoft describes it as ‘limited’, simply acting as a tool you can use to send webpages from your iPhone to your PC.

Control your Android smartphone from your PC

To control your Android smartphone from your Windows PC, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the Your Phone app on your computer.
  2. Select Android when asked what type of device you’re using.
  3. On your smartphone, head to the Google Play Store and install the Your Phone application.
  4. Once the app is installed, head back to your PC and select Yes, finished installing Your Phone Companion.
  5. When prompted, select Open QR code.
  6. With a QR code displaying on your computer, head back to your phone and select Link your phone and PC (see also: what are QR codes?).
  7. Use your phone’s camera to scan the QR code on your computer – this will pair the devices together.

Your phone and your computer should now be partnered up. You’ll know right away if the app is working because you’ll see a picture of your phone in the top-left corner, along with details about your battery life.

The Notifications tab will mirror alerts that appear on your phone. For example, if the calendar app on your phone reminds you of an upcoming meeting, you’ll see the same alert pop up on your computer. From Settings, you can decide how much information is shown in your notifications. In a shared office, for example, you might prefer to have sensitive information from your notifications hidden before you click them.

You can send text messages and look through your inbox using the Messages tab. Meanwhile, the Photos tab will let you browse your image library – you can even drag photos from your phone on to your desktop, saving you the trouble of emailing them to yourself.

Last but not least is the Calls tab. If your computer has a Bluetooth connection, you can use this tab to make phone calls through your mobile. All the contacts you have saved on your mobile are accessible through the Your Phone app on desktop. During a call, you can use your PC’s speakers and built-in microphone.

Control your iPhone from your PC

As mentioned earlier, the Your Phone app is fairly limited on iPhone for now. But if you want a quick way of sharing website links between your smartphone and your PC, here’s how to get the job done:

  1. Open the Microsoft Your Phone app on your computer.
  2. Select iPhone when asked what type of device you’re using.
  3. On your iPhone, go to www.aka.ms/yourpc and install Microsoft Edge.
  4. Once Edge is installed, head to your PC and select Yes, finished installing Microsoft Edge.
  5. Click Continue.
  6. From your iPhone, tap the profile picture icon in the top-left corner and sign in to your email account.

If you’ve done everything correctly, you’ll see a message that reads: ‘Your iPhone is linked. You can use Microsoft Edge to browse the web on your iPhone and send webpages to your PC to finish reading on a larger screen.’

Useful technology for your home office

A reliable broadband connection

An internet connection you can rely on is crucial if you want to power through your working day from home.

On a mission to find the best broadband providers in 2021, we’ve surveyed thousands of customers about their experiences. More than 4,000 broadband provider customers took part in our latest survey, allowing us to rate providers on customer service, value for money, connection speed and technical support.

To see which providers you can rely on, see our expert guide to the best and worst broadband providers 2021.


Home office hack: improve your connection with a wi-fi extender

If your home office is located far away from your router, consider investing in a wi-fi extender to improve your connection. Wi-fi extenders can prove useful in a large or multi-storey home that has wi-fi ‘black spots’. Extenders pick up your existing wireless signal from your router, and then redistribute it. See our wi-fi router and extender reviews.


A cheap-to-run printer

No home office is truly complete without a printer. If you’re shopping for a new printer, make sure you consult our expert reviews to save on running costs.

Spot a cheap printer online or in store and you might instinctively reach for your wallet, but be warned – an inefficient printer could cost you £100 more a year than an economical model to print the same number of pages.

Avoid ink-guzzling printers with our handy guide to the best cheap printers to buy and run.


Home office hack: print directly from your smartphone

If your printer supports wireless printing, it’s worth downloading the manufacturer’s printing app to your smartphone or tablet, if you haven’t already. This will allow you to easily print from your device, especially Android devices (and Chromebooks), as Google CloudPrint is no longer around.


A brainy smart speaker

Working a smart speaker into your home office setup can help in so many different ways. For starters, you can sync your speaker with your calendar app of choice, which means you can use voice commands to schedule meetings or check when your next video call is.

Smart speakers can also help you to search for information online in seconds, schedule reminders, set alarms or even load up some relaxing music to get you through a particularly stressful afternoon.

Pick the perfect smart speaker for you with our expert guide on how to buy the best wireless or Bluetooth speaker.


Home office hack: link your calendar and email to your smart speaker

If you own an Amazon Alexa smart speaker, visit Settings in the Alexa app and choose Calendar & Email. Link these to Alexa and you can ask for updates on your schedule, and new emails.

If you have a Google Assistant speaker, open the Google Home mobile app and sign in to your Google account. At the top-right corner, select Device settings, then Recognition & personalisation. Turn on Allow personal results. Now, try saying ‘OK, Google, when’s my first meeting today?’


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